July 16, 2001 12:00 PM

Jet Li, Bridget Fonda

If action counts more than words, Kiss of the Dragon is a heck of a film. Filled with one bone-crushing, neck-breaking martial arts battle after another (complete with gruesome sound effects), this violent thriller allows Asian star Jet Li (Lethal Weapon 4) to do what he does best: whup folks senseless. If, however, one measures a movie by character development, depth of story and sprightliness of dialogue, Dragon is belching pure ash.

Li plays a top Chinese cop who comes to Paris to help the French police nail a Chinese drug smuggler. The lead local officer on the case (Tchéky Karyo) turns out to be heinously corrupt, and soon Li is on the run, fearing for his life. He teams up with Fonda, stuck in the woefully ridiculous role of a small-town North Dakota girl who, under Karyo’s sway, has turned junkie and prostitute in Paris. Li, looking diminutive but tough, mostly confines his speeches to one and two words, while Karyo substitutes yelling for acting. (R)

Bottom Line: Miss this Kiss

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